India Govt plans to use IAS, IPS, IRS officers with MBBS degree in fight against Covid

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The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is planning to prepare a list of IAS, IPS, IRS officers with an MBBS degree so that they can be engaged more proactively in the fight against the Covid pandemic.

Officials privy to the development said that in a meeting with DoPT officials last week, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh suggested such a list be prepared so that both the state and central governments can utilise the service of such officers if need be.

“It is a known fact that a high number of civil servants have MBBS degrees, and go through training in health policy… We are trying to get data on this to see if these officers can be used by both the state and central governments to make decisions concerning Covid more informed,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.

“The thinking in the government is that such officials should be increasingly appointed in health-related ministries so that there is compatibility in their expertise and administrative work,” the official said.

“It is in keeping with the government’s efforts to bring in more domain expertise also,” he added.

DoPT spokesperson Shambu Chaudhary said the decision to prepare such a list was taken one-and-half-months ago. “But there has been no progress on that,” he added.

‘Who will look after administration, and law and order?’

Another official gave the example of Mumbai where four IAS officers were given charge of monitoring major state-run hospitals in the city for effective management of Covid-related efforts.

“In the face of the pandemic, a lot of IAS officers will be needed for this kind of work… So if they are well-acquainted with the medical stream, it would be very helpful,” the official said.

An IPS officer, who has studied medicine, said the step is a “welcome one” as long as officers, who have studied medicine, are not engaged as frontline workers.

“In a sense, IAS and IPS officers are already the frontline staff… It wouldn’t be possible for them to shell out more time in hospitals. Who will look after administration, and law and order in that case?” the officer asked.

“If the government wants to depute more officers to medicine-related postings, it is fine for IAS, but how do you do that for IPS, IRS or forest service?” he said.